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“Impact of Nāțya Śāstra was first reflected in Germany and France 20 years before it was published”

Music, dance and gestures are as old as humanity. Man communicated only through gestures until languages evolved over many centuries. Dance is the earliest language of humanity. Even now, we still use gestures while speaking to emphasise what we say in words. India is a land of one of the most ancient cultures and civilizations in the world. While its diversity may baffle people across the world, its unity is held by a strong undercurrent of shared traditions and values. Though there are about 1600 languages, people proudly sing one National Anthem, enjoy the oneness of many of their varied cultures held together by their treatises.

One such great treatise which keeps the Indian Classical Dances as a bunch of many colourful flowers together, is Nāțya Śāstra, a text on dramaturgy written around 2 C BC by Bharata. It is the world’s earliest available treatise on the subject. This text governs all forms of dance practised in India, whether it is Kathak dance in the north or Kūchipudi in the south, Manipuri in the north east or Mohiniāțțm in the south west of India. The manuscripts of Nāțya Śāstra were first found around 1826. Nāțya Śāstra is a kind of an encyclopaedia covering not just drama and dance, but it covered a gamut of many aspects like poetics, prosody, music, architecture, rasa, bhava, emotion and sentiments, human anatomy and scores of other important components essential to enjoy and appreciate any form of art.

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